Among the many challenges facing the National Health Service is how it adapts to the changing digital landscape.

The Government has recently announced a £9 million fund for tech businesses to develop effective digital innovations – helping to tackle technical problems and improve treatments in the NHS.

We explore how this money could be used, the core areas the NHS could develop through digitalisation and how tech companies can benefit from this fund.

 

What is the fund?

The £9 million fund is part of the larger Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – aiming to provide investment for business and science innovations. A sum of £9 million has been ringfenced and tech companies can apply for a share of the money to develop digital solutions that will advance the NHS – such as Virtual Reality-based medical training.

£1 million has been earmarked for feasibility studies, with the remaining £8 million for research and development.

Experts say it is fundamental the NHS commits to tech-based solutions across a broad spectrum of areas to help streamline processes and safeguard its future.

This fund attempts to do that.

 

Which areas are being targeted?

Parts of the NHS have already seen the effects of digitalisation, new technology and usage of apps that have transformed the day-to-day activities of many practitioners.

However, with this fund, the Government has committed to further accelerating these digital processes.

Applications are encouraged in particular for tech focusses on:

  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • The Internet of Things
  • Data security and analytics
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Companies – exclusively SMEs, although they can collaborate with other businesses and organisations – have been tasked to show how their technologies could impact clinical decision-making, healthcare access and patient-led management. As well as sensitive issues surrounding privacy and data protection.

 

What opportunities are there for tech companies?

UK-based tech innovators have an unprecedented opportunity to obtain future business by applying for a portion of this fund.

Should a tech company be successful in their application, they have the chance to work alongside NHS bodies, universities, public sector organisations and other tech companies.

As feasibility study projects can last up to 12 months and collaborative research and development projects can last up to 24 months, tech companies have the chance to forge business relationships with these stakeholders and other innovative research and technology organisations.

With the vision set out by the introduction of this fund, the Government is looking for solutions that are disruptive or transformative to the fundamental operations of the NHS, NHS, improving upon the current system.

At Mubaloo, this is particularly relevant when we develop enterprise-level mobile apps for our clients. Looking at a business’s ecosystem, we focus on improvement through streamlining and introducing user-friendly architecture to improve a best-in-class mobile offering – something applicants to this fund will surely be looking at too.

 

How will digitalisation impact patients?

In recent years, the healthcare industry has seen widespread adoption of tech – the recent testing of an NHS App across 30 GP practices across England for example – aiming to provide improved patient access and innovative post-treatment or post-operative options, along with digital access to health records.

They’ve also looked at diagnosis, treatment, recovery and long-term care, the latter especially resounding with an ageing UK population. Tech that helps with early diagnosis can lead to earlier intervention and treatment – key in the fight against diseases such as cancer.

Tech adoption across the NHS must prioritise patient outcomes and any innovations that unlock improvements in this area can become an integral part of the digital health sector.

 

The challenge has been laid down by the announcement of this fund; how to improve patient outcomes. Technology companies now have the chance to become an integral part of a more digitalised health sector.

Keep in touch with further developments in this fast-changing industry on our expert blog.